REVIEW: "An Anthropologist on Mars," the latest release from Justin Courtney Pierre
This is wholly familiar (for those of us who still love Motion City Soundtrack with a fierce passion) and a new look into the mind of Justin Courtney Pierre. As I have said before, no one does imagery like Pierre and this time it’s with a focus on introspection and self-deprecation told with a backdrop of catchy power-pop hooks.
The opening song "Dying to Know" gives us a taste of what’s to come in the rest of the EP in 100 seconds of rip-roaring pop-punk mastery. He questions everything he knows with fever: ‘Stranded in knowledge now everything is wrong / Where do I belong? I'm not quite in my body / I'm feeling a lot like an anthropologist on Mars.’ It’s a concept we can all relate to, feeling like our own self is something alien and needs to be explored.
It leads nicely into "I Hate Myself" in which Pierre compares his life to ‘yours’: ‘Well, I hate myself / Just a little bit more than I hate you,’ and ‘I like my life / Just a little bit more than I like yours.’ However, this does not come without a journey through self-deprecation with a critical look at himself and his family tree: ‘I might like myself / If I didn’t look the way I do / If only I could fit more of the truth / Inside those medium t-shirts,’ and ‘This family tree / Is drowning in hypocrisy.’
"Footsteps" is my personal favourite on the EP. It’s the most revealing lyrically but he presents them almost flippantly, as if this is a common thing everyone goes through: ‘I can't do the things I used to do forever / A darkened heart holds on to all that history.’ It’s a deeper dive into the family tree mentioned in the previous song and wanting to create your own path, but in the end following in the footsteps of those before you: ‘Why would you run from the thing you desire / There is no comfort in fear / Gathering branches just to / Follow in your footsteps now.’
"Promise Not to Change" is another short but mighty song coming in at 105 seconds. It doesn’t allow you to catch your breath, going head-first into vocals and music, not letting up until it peters off at the end with one final bang of the drum. This is a song for headbanging and jumping.
"Illumination" finishes the EP with a closer inspection into himself, but with a lens of sentimentality, vulnerability and a whole lot of keyboard and synths. Pierre opens the song with humour, which is an aspect of everything he releases, as he reflects on who he was: ‘Used to be cool / I used to be very cool / Save for the acid wash.’ He goes on to explain how he’s changed with my favourite lyrics of the EP: ‘All of the things I thought that might have been / Have washed away like winter in the wind on skin,’ and what this means to those in his life and the greater universe: ‘Cause here in the multiverse / You can be anything you want,’ and ‘It's me and you from here on out tonight / We'll dine in on goldenrod / And work out this paradox.’ Ultimately, it’s a hopeful song about his future and how these changes can mean something good as he closes out the EP by singing: ‘There is no easy way / To say what I need to say / Rather than stuff it down / I choose to tear the whole thing out.’
An Anthropologist on Mars is a mastery of pop-punk and imagery that is instantly identifiable as Justin Courtney Pierre. It’s comfort and wonder at new discoveries within yourself condensed into five songs that’ll have you wishing you were in a crowd.
Justin Courtney Pierre can be found on Twitter and Instagram. The EP can be streamed wherever you listen to music!